Friday, 29 July 2016

where happy silence lulls the quiet soul ...

"Whilst August yet wears her golden crown,
    Ripening fields lush- bright with promise;
Summer waxes long, then wanes, quietly passing
    Her fading green glory on to riotous Autumn."
-  Michelle L. Thieme, August's Crown   

And so, another month is almost over.  A month of unwelcome heat (for me), the ground becoming bone hard, flowers quickly going over; dragging the hosepipe up to the top of the garden to quench the thirst of the vegetables; the countryside parched; July, as you may have guessed, is not my favourite month.  Now, thankfully, it has turned a little cooler and is more bearable.

But there have been upsides.  An unexpected tea party in the garden; meeting up with a friend I haven't seen for a while; a birthday celebration meal getting together with a coterie of friends to laugh and chat and catch up on news.  My circle of friends isn't large - but I have managed to see them all in the last week.

I realised that occasionally I need these things - contact with the world beyond the garden gate.  Left to my own devices I would become reclusive and hermit-like and I do need other people to bring me out of myself, even if I groan inwardly at the prospect!

When it is hot it feels good to be by the water; watching life drifting by brings a feeling of peace and calm.

Sometimes, at home I sit outside and stare, not thinking, my mind a blank, letting go of all thoughts. Other times I sit and notice everything; two sparrows coming down to the pond to drink and bathe; a bee tumbling in and out of the nasturtiums by the door; a butterfly at rest on the kitchen windowsill.

 I leave the garden to its own devices, it has taken advantage of my neglect and laziness and turned into a flowery wilderness, it may look a mess but the bees and hoverflies are indulging themselves busily every day.  I notice them while I am picking sweet peas and harvesting beans and courgettes.  I have squash plants flinging their octopus arms hither and thither, trying to take over the world, or their little part of it - it all looks lush and productive, and I close my eyes to the weeds and disorder.

I wonder what August will bring, hopefully more time to read.  I began The History of Love by Nicole Krauss this morning - this is a passage from the first chapter:-
"Once upon a time there was a boy who lived in a house across the field from a girl who no longer exists.  They made up a thousand games.  She was Queen and he was King.  In the autumn light, her hair shone like a crown.  They collected the world in small handfuls.  When the sky grew dark they parted with leaves in their hair."
It looks promising - I think I am going to enjoy reading this book.


Friday, 22 July 2016

Fields of Burnished Gold ...

Van Gogh's true colours exposed – the week in art | Art and design ...:  
Vincent van Gogh

All this unexpected summer sunshine is ripening the crops in the fields - nothing more beautiful than a field of golden corn waving in the breeze. I mounted my trusty steed and cycled down into the valley, all the while listening to the buzzards mewling above; catching the thermals and circling higher and higher.

The farmers have been busy working into the night to get the crops and hay gathered before the weather turns, dotted across the fields the black specks of  scavenging crows pecking around for fallen seed and grain.

Fields of Gold
You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Among the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky,
When we walked in fields of gold.


There's a bright golden haze on the meadow,
There's a bright golden haze on the meadow,
The corn is as high as an elephant's eye
And it looks like it's climbin'
Clear up in the sky
 And then all the heavy machinery will come in; cutting and threshing; grain belching out from funnels into the wagons trundling behind; then the  baling machines gather up hay and straw into huge bales, wrapping them in black plastic, a blot on the countryside, and the harvest is complete for another year - the circle of the year keeps turning. 
"The whirr of the mower met us across the stubble, rabbits jumped like firecrackers about the fields, and the hay smelt crisp and sweet.  The farmer's men were all hard at work, raking, turning, and loading.  Tall, whiskered fellows forked the grass, their chests like bramble patches.  The air swung with their forks and the swathes took wind and rose like eagles to the tops of the wagons.  The farmer gave us a short fork each and we both pitched in with the rest ..."
(extract from Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee)
gathering in the harvest, the traditional way c. 1900 
Haystack 1890 - a beautiful sight - expertly constructed
Haystack, c 1842., Talbot, William Henry Fox:  


Friday, 15 July 2016

nature's silent eloquence ...

The other day I picked up my camera and headed off for a walk around the village - something I haven't done for a while, due to all manner of things that have interrupted my daily rituals.

The Linden trees are in blossom; this one overhangs the pavement and smells so sweet - attracting hordes of bees and literally buzzing with life.

In July the verges alongside the road become a tangled mess of grasses that are in need of cutting; most of the wild flowers are over, except for a patch of moon daisies I found that have escaped from a nearby garden.

I have missed taking this walk every day; it helps me feel connected to the countryside and the seasons; become more conscious of the weather; the flowers; the crops and the animals in the fields.


I can spy over hedgerows and fences and see my fellow villagers' gardens; all the things that make this such a pretty village.

And when I arrive home  and see my front garden, I once again remember just how lucky I am to live here in such beautiful surroundings.

Look on yonder earth:
The golden harvests spring, the unfailing sun
Sheds light and life; the fruits, the flowers, the trees,
Arise in due succession; all things speak
Peace, harmony, and love.  The universe,
In nature's silent eloquence, declares
That all fulfil the works of love and joy, -
All but the outcast man.
Nature and Man
Percy Bysshe Shelley
p.s.  I woke this morning at 4.45 a.m. noticed a red glow through the curtains, and witnessed a glorious sunrise.  I reached for the camera, took a photo, and promptly went back to sleep, waking again at 9.00 a.m. - half the morning gone!

Friday, 8 July 2016

a rose labyrinth ...

This is one of the most beautiful rose gardens I have visited.

Coughton Court in Warwickshire. (pronounced Coat-un)


Wandering the gravel paths,
Fingers glancing over silken petals
and prickled thorn.
The air hangs heavy with sweetness
and honied scents.
Roses of all colours and hue
Noisette, Alba, Damask, Floribunda
Scrambling skyward or trailing low.
Following the twisted curve
The labyrinth
An endless path leading to
Where flowering abundance begins and ends.
Darkened arbours to sit in shade
and view the house of history, made
 of ancient stone, turret and gable
standing still,
watching over the centuries.

And now for the history bit ... 

The name Coughton (pronounced "Coat-un") suggests a settlement or farm known for the hunting of woodcock or game birds. It is believed that there was a medieval house on the site when John de Throckmorton arrived in 1409 to marry into the de Spiney family. Since that time, Coughton Court has been home to the Throckmortons, one of the UK’s oldest Catholic families.  This year the family is celebrating its 600th anniversary of residence at Coughton Court.

Through its rich and varied history, the house has witnessed some of the most defining moments in British history – from the court of Henry VIII to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

Coughton Court still has many of its original features including its flamboyant sixteenth-century gate tower. It is one of the last remaining Roman Catholic houses in the country to retain its historic treasures: it houses one of the very best collections of portraits and memorabilia of one family from the early Tudor times.  Alongside family items on display, there are pieces such as the chemise reputedly worn by Mary Queen of Scots when she was executed and a bishop’s Cope, with intricate needlework, believed to have been worked upon by Catherine of Aragon.

Coughton Court was gifted to the National Trust in 1946 by the Throckmortons , with a 300 year lease to the family.  The Throckmortons continues to live at Coughton Court, continuing six centuries of unbroken tradition.

After inheriting the estate in 1992, it was Clare McLaren-Throckmorton's intention, together with her daughter, the acclaimed garden designer Christina Williams, to create a garden that provides this beautiful house the setting it deserves.
p.s.  the photos really don't do the garden justice - the sun was so bright it just bleached everything out.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Down to Earth ...

A nothing much happened kind of week.  Mostly it rained and rained and rained.  The sun burst through for short periods then hid behind the clouds and it rained again.  The garden is flattened and battered and a soggy mess.  We have had the heating on it has been so chilly - even my pet sheep had their hats and scarves on.

On Monday electricians came and fitted an earthing device.  On Tuesday a different electrician came and earthed us (our earthing spike had deteriorated - whatever that is) - apparently new regs said it had to be done before the house could be signed off as completed.  The electrician also fitted the new ceiling lights to replace the water damaged ones.

And a new desk has been installed to replace the water damaged one.

Next week all the carpets are going to be fitted and voila - we're done.  Hurrah!

Meanwhile back at the ranch - every time the sun came out I rushed into the garden to take some pics of the least damaged flowers.

The view from the kitchen window

The bees have been going mad on the lavender bushes

Despite all the wet weather it is a great year for strawberries

And I couldn't resist showing you some more poppies.
Have a great weekend.